Innovative New Research Projects in Visual Resources Introduced at CAA Conference in New York

The College Art Association’s annual conference was held in New York City this past week, and by volunteering as a room monitor I avoided registration fees to attend the big event. Art historians, studio artists, museum professionals, publishers, and other art-related professionals descended on the midtown Hilton (conveniently located a block away from MoMA) to share innovative new research projects.

Key Conversation: Hrag Vartanian of Hyperallergic leads discussion on radical thinking about art in the world today. This slide refers to museum as activist stage during protests of Guggenheim's manual labor abuses in Abu Dhabi.

Key Conversation: Hrag Vartanian of Hyperallergic leads discussion on radical thinking about art in the world today. This slide refers to museum as activist stage during protests of Guggenheim’s manual labor abuses in Abu Dhabi.

During the conference, I listened to fascinating sessions related to the field of visual resources, one of which included a hands-on workshop, “Getting Started with Publishing Digital Art History.” Contributors included Emily Pugh (Getty Research Institute), Elizabeth Buhe (NYU), Petra ten-Doesschate Chu (Seton Hall University), and several editorial and production staff representing online art history journal Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. Among the topics discussed were open-source digital publishing tool Scalar (employed in several past HART projects), ArcGIS, Getty’s OSCI toolkit, and Sketchfab.

From the panel session "Big data and Broken Algorithms."

From the panel session “Big Data and Broken Algorithms”

Engaging panels, such as “Exploring Art Markets of the Past: Tools and Methods in the Age of Big Data,” highlighted data visualizations using Tableau Public by a team at the National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC) on Materials and Techniques in the Dutch Market for Elite Genre Painting. The study utilized advanced graph making tools to reveal the ways that use of color and quality of brushwork correlate with the price of artwork.

A session titled “Rethinking Photographic Archives Online” showcased digital projects: The Marc Vaux Archive (Pat Elifritz, Bard College in collaboration with Centre Pompidou), a yet-to-be finalized archive of original samples in early photographic manuals at the Library of Congress (Katherine Mintie, Berkeley in collaboration with the Lens Media Lab at Yale); and another database in development of historical views of Lebanese tourism, “A View from the View” (Jared McCormick, Harvard).

During the session “Using Omeka to Design Digital Art History Projects,” Kimon Keramidas (NYU) gave an engaging talk on Object-Oriented Pedagogy and Digital Storytelling: The Content Management System as Nonlinear Narrative Platform. He demonstrated the ways in which students interacted with the Omeka platform, as did another presentation by Fordham University’s art history and visual resources department. Both talks addressed how best to leverage technology with course content. Keramidas also drew attention to a call for submissions from The Online Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy for its special issue “Re-viewing Digital Technologies and Art History.”

Session: "State of the Art (History): Pedagogy Laboratory," Ellery E. Foutch's topic was "Bringing Students into the Picture: Teaching with Tableaux Vivants."

Session: “State of the Art (History): Pedagogy Laboratory,” Ellery E. Foutch’s topic was “Bringing Students into the Picture: Teaching with Tableaux Vivants.”

Changing traditional teaching methods in the field was a hot topic at this year’s CAA, and during the session “State of the Art (History): Pedagogy Laboratory” there were many inspiring speakers. One such talk by Ellery E. Foutch (Middlebury College) discussed using tableaux vivants as a technique for students to think transformatively rather than merely playing dress-up. Meanwhile, Corey Dzenko (Monmouth University) described her experience utilizing campus architecture to immerse the students in her ancient monuments class. An example of a class exercise given by Dzenko was comparing an exclusive new dormitory to the Flavian amphitheater. The latter talk echoed the sentiments of a presentation in a session that followed entitled Augmented Reality in Digital Cultural Heritage by Victoria Szabo (Duke University). In collaboration with the Venice International University, Szabo developed a Ghett/App mobile application to complement an exhibition “Venice, the Jews and Europe 1516-2016,” that promoted the interplay of current space with superimposed views of the past.

Slide from Victoria Szabo, Duke University, presentation: "Augmented Reality in Digital Cultural Heritage."

Slide from Victoria Szabo, Duke University, presentation: “Augmented Reality in Digital Cultural Heritage”

Certainly, with more than 250 stimulating sessions offered this year, CAA proved yet again to be an essential resource for exciting new art historical scholarship. The 106th CAA Annual Conference will be held in Los Angeles, February 21-24, 2018.

~~~ Millie Fullmer, director of HART’s Visual Resources Center